“Some of the best steaks ever,” recalled Canton Abettor Charlie Meyer, who had his groom’s banquet there about 40 years ago. “He would angle there and barbecue them. His was one of the aboriginal places you’d anytime apparent area the chef would angle in advanced of the barter with the grill.”
Osterberg, who died on Thursday, Oct. 4, at age 94, was accomplished as a chemist but spent best of his alive activity in the restaurant business, starting at Osterberg’s Cafe, which his ancestor ran in city Alexandria.
He was arguably best accepted for his years at Fireside, which he bought in 1968 and awash in 1996. He adapted steaks, craven and “Sonny’s Walleye.” He ordered charcoal by the alternation car load, autumn the accoutrements in a four-car garage, said his oldest son, Patrick Osterberg.
Friends would allocution to him while he worked, and barter would ask to be built-in in booths so they could watch him, said Catie Osterberg, his oldest granddaughter. Accouchement enjoyed watching him too, but they had to break at a safe distance. The calefaction from the barbecue was so acute that his face would be red, she said. He kept a TV on so he could watch “the game,” usually Twins baseball.
“I accept a lot of account for the man and I consistently did,” said Meyer, additionally a restauranteur. “My memories of Sonny were great. He was one of the nicest men you’d anytime meet. He begin the best in everybody. … You never heard him talking bad about anybody.”
Sonny had apparent railroad cars at added restaurants and consistently capital one of his own, his son recalled. So aback a above dining car’s auto bound up a the Alexandria annex and its buyer no best capital it, he airtight it up for $1,000.
“It amount him addition $5,000 to move it,” Patrick Osterberg remembered.
They congenital advance for it to sit on and absorbed the car to the Fireside Steakhouse. Barter would canyon through the bar and ascend accomplish to access the abuse car, area they could eat or comedy pinball. The restaurant has been bankrupt in contempo years, but the railroad car is still there.
Sonny’s assignment belief was notable, said ancestors and friends. He was the alone baker at Fireside and it was accessible every day but Monday, from 5-10 p.m. And on Monday, they said, he still went in, to booty affliction of added business. Even on the canicule the restaurant was bankrupt to the public, Thanksgiving and Christmas, it was accessible for family, and he adapted then, too.
He kept a garden, broiled aliment for the restaurant, and sang. He sang at weddings, funerals and Mass. He sang 1950s bedrock ‘n’ cycle tunes for his wife. He sang the civic canticle at Gophers football games.
“I don’t anticipate anyone would altercate this, that he was the best tenor to appear out of Alexandria at that time,” his son said.
Sonny kept a huge account board, and bodies from all over the country would pin their business cards there. Aback he heard about a ailing boy absent bodies to accelerate him business cards, he beatific all the cards on his lath — conceivably 500 — to the boy, Patrick Osterberg said. It wasn’t continued afore the account lath abounding aback up.
When at aftermost he retired from the restaurant business, Catie Osterberg said, the accomplished ancestors and abounding barter aggregate at the restaurant for a party. He adapted that day, too.
“I was 15, and I aloof bethink we took bags of pictures that day of all corners of the restaurant,” she said. “We knew, all we kids knew, this was a big deal.”
Even afterwards Sonny retired, he afraid assimilate his affection for cooking. During his one attack to run for canton commissioner, he included a compound for “Sonny’s Fireside Kidney Bean Salad” on the aback of his cards.
Some of his recipes accept anesthetized on to his accouchement and grandchildren: buffet and hot dishes, his compound for beef stroganoff. His abstruse for authoritative chicken, Patrick Osterberg said, was to abscess it afore affable it.
During his aftermost two years, Sonny suffered from dementia. Yet he kept authoritative motions with his easily like he was acrimonious up tongs and axis steaks, Catie Osterberg said.
“You knew he was at Fireside,” she said. “Even at the end, he was acclimation bodies steaks.”
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